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Meet Embark's Advisory Board – Michael Tapp

by Wally Alarcon, SHRM-CP, CIA, CISA - October 2020 5 min read

Companies progressing down Success Boulevard should expect unexpected twists and turns in the road, even without a global pandemic fogging up the windshield. That's precisely why Embark founded our advisory board – so we can lean on the experience and expertise of those that have traveled unfamiliar highways before.

Michael Tapp, one of our board members, fits that description to a tee. As we continue to spread our wings in pursuit of our vision and goals, Michael plays a crucial role in helping us traverse this new terrain. In fact, since he's such an integral part of both where we are and where we're heading, we wanted to take a moment to introduce Michael and explain why his guidance is so valuable to our team, particularly when it comes to culture, capital, and strategy.


The Ideal Background

Michael's exemplary career includes varied industries, organizations, and perspectives. It began in Shell Oil Company’s downstream retail marketing group but would later encompass the venture capital community as well, giving him invaluable experience working with early-stage technology startups during the dotcom days.

Read Next: How Employee Recognition Boosts Embark's Culture

Michael has continually built upon those different experiences, using them for insights and skills that would also propel his success as a hands-on operator and general manager for Interstate Batteries, where he served as a platform president for the company’s retail business. Although he has since returned to the capital community, he continues to draw on the critical lessons he learned with Interstate. And Embark is the fortunate beneficiary of all that experience and insight.


The Value of Culture and People

At Embark, we're not shy about the importance we place on our people and culture. They’re what define us – our calling card, if you will – and are front and center for nearly every decision we make. That's yet another reason why Michael is such a spectacular fit for our firm's vision and goals, where his experience in the senior leadership at Interstate brings us valuable perspective from a $1B+ industry leader who, at its core, is a purpose-driven company with a conscious culture.

Michael is a champion for our culture and helps us think through ways to enhance it, often reminding us that growth is an opportunity to broaden our impact, but only if we stay true to our purpose and values. The way we see it – a perspective that Michael shares – a company is so much more than its P&L. That's why we continue to do things our way and forge our own path.


Navigating the Capital Community

As a high growth company, private equity sponsors are routinely knocking on Embark’s front door. In fact, the capital community was the impetus to Michael and Paul Allen, Embark's founder, initially crossing paths. While doing some consulting work for various PE groups in Dallas, Michael began advising Paul on the intricacies of the capital community for some needed perspective as our firm took off its training wheels and really started to grow.

Even in those early days, Paul knew that competency in the capital community was essential for our growth and success. Years later, Michael continues to be a critical advocate, leveraging his practical experience and understanding of the capital community for our benefit, including helping us navigate the different term sheets we’ve received over the years.

Needless to say, the capital community sees the world differently than business owners and operators. Michael’s background and experience in both camps provides Embark’s leadership with a unique perspective and impeccable advice with these critical decisions.


Strategizing For the Road Ahead

Embark's innovative business model has proven to be extremely effective, as evidenced by our explosive growth in both head count and footprint. After Michael’s first cycle through our strategic planning process, he provided us with a framework used by $1B enterprises that would prove to be crucial in guiding our expansion.

Integrating that framework into our processes – in concert with Michael’s advice – has allowed our leadership team to incrementally improve and solidify key business practices, both essential in helping us steer through such rapid growth and strategizing for the future. Therefore, is there any wonder on who we called first when it was time to establish our advisory board?

Given his experience in so many of our strengths– oil & gas, PE & VC-backed operations, strategy & leadership, amongst others – Michael was the perfect choice to spearhead its development. Working in conjunction with our leadership team, our advisory board helps us navigate these extraordinarily risky times while staying true to our principles and vision.

Read Next: People, Culture, & Leadership: What Makes Embark Different

Would we have realized the same level of success if Michael and Embark never crossed paths? That's impossible to say. However, we can state with absolute certainty that those inevitable twists and turns on the road ahead will be infinitely more manageable with Michael's advice. And that's a position any firm would envy.


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